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Exclusive Q&A - Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella 21 Mar 2007

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007

'We must not let Ferrari get away,' insists Italian

Renault’s weekend in Melbourne was far from perfect. The R27 lacked pace, new signing Heikki Kovalainen received a rebuke from team boss Flavio Briatore, and their four-point haul provided cold comfort compared to last year’s ten. Giancarlo Fisichella, however, remains firmly optimistic for the coming races, vowing to help the world champions fight back…

Q: Giancarlo, how satisfied were you with your race in Melbourne?
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Personally, I think I have interpreted the race in the best possible way given the strategy and the performance we have. Looking at the data, my engineers confirmed to me that there was little else I could do to improve our position at the finish. I was aggressive with Trulli and Massa to enable Renault to score four points and whilst we wait for the R27 to improve, this is very important.

Q: Renault started the weekend as the world champions, but with Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber apparently better equipped, you finished it fourth in the standings. Will this trend continue?
GF:
I do not think we are the fourth power on the grid, we are the world champions. For sure Ferrari are one step ahead, but I would be very surprised if Renault did not come back to challenge McLaren and BMW for the next race in Malaysia.

Q: Speed seems to be missing. With the engine the same as last year’s, what do you think is causing the car’s shortfall in pace?
GF:
Right, nothing’s wrong with the engine. We lack grip, or at least did in Melbourne. So aerodynamics is the main area where we need to improve.

Q: The new tyre regulations state drivers must use both specifications during a race - is this something that creates difficulties in the set-up of the car, especially considering Renault’s difficulty in adjusting to the Bridgestone rubber?
GF:
Our car was perfect with Michelins, so it was expected that we were the worst penalised team with the switch to Bridgestone. We have to look at our data now and try to understand how we can make the tyre work for us.

Q: Many agree that the Melbourne circuit is too individual a track to gauge the real potential of a car, and that a machine’s worth will only become discernible in Kuala Lumpur. You won in Malaysia last year. Do you expect your performance to improve there?
GF:
It is correct. My positive feeling after the test in Bahrain remains because I know that Melbourne is an odd track and results (there) can be misleading. So let’s wait for the next two races and see.

Q: When you go to Malaysia for the pre-race test session next week, what will the team concentrate on?
GF:
With only one car testing, Heikki (Kovalainen) has been selected to do the work because he has never seen that track before and he needs as many miles as he can get. I am sure he will have a full programme.

Q: How likely will it be that the performance of the car will improve over the next two flyaway races, so far from the team’s home base?
GF:
As I said, let’s wait and see. We have a great team, even away from home, and for sure we know what to do.

Q: With the experience of Melbourne in mind, how do you see the season unfolding?
GF:
It will be tough as expected. We must not let Ferrari get away and close the gap fast - very fast!